The top Greek travel destination is located northwest of the Thessalian plain, in the city of Kalambaka. It is a beautiful geological phenomenon of a set of dark sandstone rocks, created about 25 million years ago. According to geological research, these solid huge rocks were discovered when the ground of this area was raised or the sea level fell, after forceful earthquakes. From the end of the 10th century, it became the ideal settlement for Christian ascetics, where several centuries later, during the Turkish occupation, it became a refuge for monasticism and the preservation of monuments of culture and works of post-Byzantine art.
Meteora once had 24 monasteries, but today only 6 operate, which are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as it is one of the most important monastic complexes after Mount Athos. The access to them was once made with hanging baskets, rope ladders, ropes and pulleys, ￼but from 1920 onwards the rocks were carved to create stairs and tunnels. The surrounding area of Meteora has been officially declared as a Natura 2000 Ecological Zone by the Greek Ministry of Environment, for the protection of rare species of birds and flowers, which from time to time is unfortunately threatened in various ways by human intervention. Meteora is an impressive destination that enriches the emotions and the spirit of every visitor, suitable even for those who do not have a particularly religious interest.
What To See...
This particular monastery is the oldest and largest of the six and is located at the top of Platy Lithos, which is the highest point of Meteora at 534 meters high. Once the access to the Monastery was made by rope ladder ￼and nets, which are still used today to transport supplies and a little more rarely for elderly pilgrims who wish for. Today the ascent is made through carved steps in the rock, which lead to the entrance of the monastery. The view from above, is really breathtaking and creates feelings of awe and admiration. Its visitors can admire the panoramic view of the Pinios river, Mount Koziaka, as well as the small village of Kastraki.
The monastery of Varlaam or the monastery of All Saints, is a very important, male monastery and owes its name to the first ascetic who climbed and inhabited the rock in the 14th century. The ascetic Varlaam built three temples, a small cell and a water tank. As the monastery was abandoned for many years, finally at the beginning of the 16th century it was reorganized and renovated by the brothers Nectarios and Theofanis, 2 monks from Ioannina. The catholic monastery is dedicated to All Saints and has magnificent frescoes wall paintings which based on their style, are attributed to Frangos Katelanos Byzantine painter.
The ascent to the monastery at that time was done with wooden stairs, something really dangerous if we consider the prevailing weather conditions, in combination with the morphology of the rocks. The lifting of the materials for the reconstruction of the monastery was carried out with a manual net. The transportation of the materials took 22 years and the construction only 20 days. From the beginning of the 19th century, carved stairs were created on the rock with an intermediate bridge, which underwent many modifications and the heavy loads go up to the Monastery with an electric elevator.
In Meteora you will have the opportunity to enjoy many hikes, of easy or difficult level. One of them is the specific one that we will suggest you, which lead to the monastery of the Holy Spirit. Above the village of Kastraki there is a very high rock, known as Holy Spirit (Agio Pneuma) where in a cave , there is the monastery which gave its name to the rock. The path starts from the central square of the village Kastraki, where the signage will help you reach the beautiful fountain of Neraida. From that point it continues an easy hike on a dirt and a rocky path. Without realizing it, in about an hour you will be in the monastery of Holy Spirit. After a little rest, we suggest you continue a few meters above the rock, where the bell tower of the monastery is located and really the view you will enjoy is unique.
Kastraki is a traditional picturesque village at the foot of Meteora where together with the whole area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beauty of the landscape is impressive and imposing with the majestic rocks coexisting harmoniously with the small settlement. The area has many local traditions with important customs as well as wonderful taverns with fine local cuisine, traditional alcohol drinks like tsipouro and wine that you must try.
Kalambaka is a city with a rich history, important monuments and many religious customs. It is a city famous throughout Greece and the world due to the unique Monasteries that are built on the tops of the rocks, the famous Meteora. There, at the roots of the gray rocks and on the banks of the river Pinios, there is a lively city, with wonderful hotels, modern campings, bars, restaurants and tourist shops.
Meteora Rocks Viewpoint
After completing your tour of what interests you in the surrounding areas and monasteries, spend a few moments of relaxation enjoying the view from the top of a rock. On the main road that leads you to the monasteries, you will find several parking areas to park your car and a few meters away you will be at the top of a rock. On our map below, you will find the viewpoints we suggest, so you can get the best shots with your camera. Recommended of course is the sunset time, where most romantic travelers relax and admire from above the beauty of nature.
If you have extra days off on your trip, we suggest you visit Metsovo and Lake Plastira. Lake Plastira is located 1.5 hours from Meteora, and will offer you the opportunity to enjoy various activities on the mountain and the lake. It is an artificial lake in complete harmony with the natural landscape, which was created with the construction of the dam at the southern end of the river Tavrotos, by Nikolaos Plastiras. All seasons, the lake and the surrounding villages are a great choice for holidays that will relax you and bring you closer to nature.
Our other nearby option is Metsovo, which is about 1.15 ‘ northwest of Meteora. It is the ultimate winter destination and is a model mountain settlement in Greece. It is located in a great location on the so-called neck of Katara in Pindos. Undoubtedly it is a beautiful village, built amphitheatrically with red tiled roofs and strong traditional elements of wood and stone. If you visit the area in winter, you will have the opportunity to visit the ski resort to enjoy various activities in the snow and the rest of the year Metsovo is full of life, where the most active visitors can enjoy hiking, mountaineering, kayaking, rafting and mountain biking.
What To Eat
All areas around Meteora have many taverns and restaurants where you will surely enjoy delicious traditional food with high quality ingredients. More specifically, the area is famous for the kokoretsi and the sausage with leeks as well as for the pies of the Vlach cuisine such as pies with wild herbs and cheese, pie with corn flour and many more. As for the traditional desserts of the area is the halva of Farsala that you will find all over Thessaly, but also the dessert with the name spatula, which is a walnut pie with cream and almonds.
For authentic Greek food with a unique view of the rocks, we recommend the restaurant Meteoron Panorama. The restaurant has a wonderful interior and a comfortable terrace and is a reference point in the area for good food and impeccable service. Definitely you have to try the zucchini balls, beef with eggplant, cheese stuffed burger and Panorama salad. These are just a few of the great dishes that the restaurant has and we managed to try. If you don’t want to eat much , you can enjoy your wine with a variety of meats or cheeses or drink your coffee and try one of the traditional or modern desserts such as the delicious brownies with whiskey chocolate sauce.
How to move
Kalambaka is connected to many cities in Greece through major highways such as Athens – Lamia, Ioannina – Trikala and the Egnatia Highway. For your easy access to Meteora we suggest you to prefer the car, where in 3 and a half hours you will be from Athens to Kalampaka via the Athens – Lamia highway. Of course in addition to the car, depending on your starting city, you can choose other means such as bus or train.
Where to stay
In Kalampaka and the village of Kastraki, you will find amazing hotels with stunning views, amenities and many facilities. Depending on the budget you want to spend for accommodation, you will find rooms for all tastes, either in traditional style decoration with fireplace for the winter but also more modern luxury rooms with large terraces and pool in summer. Prices for accommodation in a double room in summer start from 35 € to 90 € per night, and in winter from 50 € up to 150 € depending on the facilities of the accommodation. You can make your bookings via Booking.com
Meteora Through Our Eyes...
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